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The Congressional Connector

Week of November 7-11, 2005

Veterans Day 2005
Every November 11th our nation honors its veterans and expresses its deep gratitude for their service.  Rep. Levin will mark this Veterans Day by joining VFW Post 1669 and the Royal Oak Memorial Society at a memorial service and groundbreaking ceremony for Royal Oak’s new veterans monument.  Following the Royal Oak ceremony, he will speak to members of VFW Posts 9021 and 3130 in Warren.  On Monday, Rep. Levin will be at Roseville High School continuing his efforts to promote the Veterans History Project.  This initiative seeks to link local  high school students with veterans to record oral histories for the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.  The Roseville event will feature a discussion between students and veterans, followed by recorded interviews to preserve the veterans’ stories for future generations. 

Lawmakers Urge Adoption of McCain Amendment Banning Torture
A bipartisan group of more than 60 members of the House of Representatives is circulating a letter this week that urges adoption of the McCain Amendment to the Defense funding bill for 2006.  On October 5, the Senate vote 90 to 9 to adopt an amendment sponsored by Senator John McCain of Arizona that would prohibit cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of persons in custody of the United States Government.  McCain is a decorated veteran who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.  The letter, which Rep. Levin has agreed to sign, reads: “We support the McCain amendment and would strongly oppose any changes to the language of the amendment that would allow exemptions for the CIA, other government agencies or government contractors, or which would permit the President to waive the amendment’s prohibitions....  Torture is always abhorrent, regardless of the location, regardless of the agency and regardless of the occupant of the White House.”  The Bush Administration is threatening to veto the defense bill if it includes Senator McCain’s anti-torture provisions. 

Guaranteed Pensions Threatened by Controversial Pension Bill
On November 9, the influential House Ways and Means Committee approved a highly controversial pension bill, the “Pension Protection Act of 2005,” which would likely increase the number of companies terminating their pension plans.  Rep. Levin, who voted against the measure said, the bill “hits right at the manufacturing industry and smacks the American worker in the face.... [The bill is] about driving guaranteed benefit pension plans out of business.  We need to stand up for American workers by safeguarding their pensions, not passing policies that make it harder for companies trying to do the right thing.”  Sponsors of the pension legislation claim that the purpose is to make companies fully fund their pension obligations.  Democrats on the Committee agreed with business and labor groups that the pension bill would cause companies to terminate their pension plans, not fund them.

House Adopts Resolution Promoting Early Detection and Awareness of Ovarian Cancer
On November 8, the House of Representatives approved a resolution calling for early detection and awareness of ovarian cancer in its early stages before it spreads to other parts of the body. Ovarian cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States. Fifty percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer die from it within 5 years, yet the disease can be treated effectively if it is discovered in its early stages.  Rep. Levin, an original cosponsor of the resolution, spoke in support of the measure: “Early detection of ovarian cancers most often leads to treatment and successful treatment, while late diagnosis makes treatment exceptionally difficult....  Every year about 27,000 women die from the gynecological cancers, and about half of those...from ovarian cancer.”   Levin also called on the Congress to back up the “good intentions” in the resolution with real action on Johanna’s Law, which would provide for a national public education campaign on the early warning signs of gynecologic cancers. Johanna’s Law, which Levin originally introduced in 2003, currently has over 220 cosponsors in the House.


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